MARKET UPDATES

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URA clamps down on reissue of options to purchase for private homes; new curbs take immediate effect

SINGAPORE - Developers are now restricted from re-issuing options to purchase (OTPs) to the same buyer of the same unit within 12 months after the expiry of the earlier OTP, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a circular issued on Monday morning (Sept 28). They are also restricted from providing upfront agreements to buyers to re-issue OTPs, URA added. Both changes take effect immediately. This latest move by the URA is aimed at curbing a property market practice believed to be inflating private home sales figures, while encouraging financial prudence in home buying amid a weak economy and uncertain employment climate. The re-issuing of OTPs refers to an arrangement some private home buyers make with a developer, via a property agent, to continually re-issue OTPs upon expiry - without any forfeiture of the booking fee. In the past, this can be done for up to a year - or even as long as up to 18 months - from the date of the first OTP. The idea is to give the buyer time, for instance, to sell his existing home. "The need for greater financial discipline in making property purchase decisions is especially pertinent given the current economic situation, where workers are facing uncertainties in the labour market. Purchasers should only commit to a property purchase when they are ready to exercise the OTP within the validity period, " Ms Ling Hui Lin, controller of housing, URA, said in Monday's circular. "Therefore, the Controller of Housing will impose new conditions in the sale licences issued to developers with effect from today, " she said. Under the terms of a standard OTP, the option will expire three weeks after the sale and purchase agreement and copies of the title deeds are delivered to the intending purchaser. The intending purchaser will have to exercise the OTP before it expires by signing the sales and purchase agreement and returning it to the developer. If the purchaser fails to exercise the OTP,25 per cent of the booking fee may be forfeited to the developer. As the booking fee is typically 5 per cent of the sales price, the forfeited amount works out to 1.25 per cent of the total home price. The three-week validity period for the OTP is put in place to encourage purchasers to exercise financial prudence and commit to purchasing a property only when they have the financial means to do so. Purchasers will be exposed to the risk of forfeiting 25 per cent of their booking fees if they commit to new property purchases without securing the necessary finances upfront. "However, we have observed that there have been instances where the OTP is re-issued multiple times to the same purchaser(s) for the same unit, which lengthens the option period significantly, " URA's Ms Ling noted. While the current validity period in the standard OTP is generally sufficient for most purchasers to exercise the OTP, the Controller recognises that there may be some buyers who require more time to finalise the necessary arrangements before exercising the OTP. For example, purchasers may require more time to complete the sale of their existing property before exercising the OTP, Ms Ling said. Upon application by such purchasers or the developers, the Controller is prepared to extend the validity period of the OTP up to 12 weeks from the OTP date, provided that both parties (i.e. the buyer and the developer) are agreeable. Buyers or developers who wish to apply for an extension of the OTP validity period may submit their application to URA, with a copy and expiry date of the OTP; and reasons for requiring more time to exercise the OTP. Ms Tricia Song, head of research, Colliers international, believes URA's move will lead to more accurate home sales numbers. "We have observed that the monthly developer sales typically have 100-130 units 'returned' every month, probably due to the indefinite re-issuance of OTPs, she told The Straits Times. "In July,1,080 private homes excluding ECs were reported to be sold by developers. In August, if we compare the sales tally of each project versus July's, there is a discrepancy of 127 units that appeared to have been returned during the month. "There are of course real cases of need such as purchasers may require more time to complete the sale of their existing property before exercising the OTP. For these cases, URA now allows extension of validity of OTP by up to 12 weeks, subject to application and mutual agreement of developer and buyer, " Ms Song noted. Private developers have nothing to lose if only genuine buyers come forward, and get to pocket the 25 per cent of the booking fees if buyers give up their OTPs, she added. Mr Karamjit Singh, chief executive of Showsuite Consultancy, said URA's new directive will "remove a segment of purchasers who don't have the capacity to make the second payment (amounting to 15 per cent of the purchase price) within 12 weeks of the purchase and to pay for stamp duties." URA also said the new restrictions do not apply retrospectively to OTPs issued before Monday where developers have an existing reissue agreement with buyers. "This comes as a welcome relief to both parties, " said Mr Karamjit. He believes the new rules are not likely to be a major dampener to the market for new private homes, especially in the affordable mass-market segment. Mr Karamjit pointed to last weekend's launch of Penrose condominium by Hong Leong Holdings. Of its 566 units,341 were sold as of Sunday, representing 60 per cent of the development. "Hong Leong practised a strict 'no-reissue' policy. This means all the buyers would be required to exercise their options within 3 weeks of being served the sale and purchase agreements, " he said.

Source: Straits Times
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60% of Penrose condo units sold over launch weekend

The Hong Leong group sold 60.3 per cent of its Penrose condominium over its launch weekend, with the reception among buyers in line with recent data showing bullish new home sales defying the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As of 5pm yesterday,341 units out of 566 in the 99-year leasehold development at Sims Drive had been taken up, said Hong Leong in a media release. The units were sold at prices starting from $788,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, $943,000 for a two-bedder, $1.33 million for a three-bedder and $2.11 million for a four-bedder, said Hong Leong yesterday. The project's apartment sizes range from 474 square feet (sq ft) for a one-bedroom unit to 1,389 sq ft for a four-bedroom unit. Take-up was good across all unit types, with the selling prices working out to $1,500 to $1,700 per square foot, said Hong Leong. It added that nearly 85 per cent of the weekend's buyers were Singaporeans, with permanent residents and foreigners making up the rest. "Keen interest was also seen from HDB upgraders across areas islandwide, " the company added. Sales of new homes - mostly newly-launched condominiums - hit an 11-month high last month, defying the Hungry Ghost Month, and more importantly, the pandemic, the resultant recession and a surge in job losses. Market observers have ascribed this to "pent-up demand" after Singapore's two-month circuit breaker upended sales and planned launches. But other reasons given for the surge in new home sales were more buyers parking their money in property, which they see as a safe-haven asset amid an uncertain economy and volatile markets, and record-low interest rates making it seem a "good time" to get a home loan. Ms Betsy Chng, head of sales and marketing at Hong Leong Holdings, said "timing and sensitive pricing" were the main factors behind the good response to the Penrose's sales launch. "Given the current climate, it is crucial to identify the right timing and price our projects thoughtfully according to market sentiments and each project's value that includes location, design and quality interiors, " she added. The project is jointly developed by Hong Leong Holdings and City Developments, another member of the group. The District 14 development, which comprises five 18-storey towers, is a short walk to Aljunied MRT station and near the Pan-Island Expressway and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway. The Central Business District is about 15 minutes' drive away. Property experts said new home sales may start to moderate in the coming months as pent-up demand from local buyers is absorbed into the market. But the gradual reopening of the economy and the setting up of fast lanes for essential travel could also result in more foreign demand for private homes here. In line with Covid-19 preventive measures, balloting and booking of Penrose units were done virtually via Zoom. Online balloting began on Friday to determine the queue sequence of buyers for booking day, which started on Saturday.

Source: Straits Times
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60% of Hong Leong's Penrose condo sold over launch weekend

SINGAPORE - The Hong Leong group sold 60.3 per cent of its Penrose condominium over its launch weekend, with the reception among buyers in line with recent data showing bullish new home sales defying the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As at 5pm on Sunday (Sept 27),341 units out of 566 in the 99-year leasehold development in Sims Drive had been taken up, said Hong Leong in a media release. The units were sold at prices starting from $788,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, $943,000 for a two-bedder, $1.33 million for a three-bedder and $2.11 million for a four-bedder, said Hong Leong in a media release on Sunday. The condo's apartments sizes range from 474 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit to 1,389 sq ft for a four-bedroom unit. Take-up was good across all unit types, with the selling price working out to $1,500 to $1,700 per sq ft, said Hong Leong. It added that nearly 85 per cent of the weekend's buyers were Singaporeans, with permanent residents and foreigners making up the rest. "Keen interest was also seen from HDB upgraders across areas islandwide, " the company added. Sales of new homes - mostly newly-launched condominiums - hit an 11-month high last month, defying the Hungry Ghost Month, and more importantly, the pandemic, the resultant recession and a surge in job losses. Market observers have ascribed this to pent-up demand after Singapore's two-month circuit breaker upended sales and planned launches. But other reasons given for the surge in new home sales were more buyers parking their money in property, which they see as a safe-haven asset amid an uncertain economy and volatile markets, and record-low interest rates making it seem a "good time" to get a home loan. Ms Betsy Chng, head of sales and marketing at Hong Leong Holdings, said "timing and sensitive pricing" were the main factors behind the good response to the Penrose's sales launch. "Given the current climate, it is crucial to identify the right timing and price our projects thoughtfully according to market sentiments and each project's value that includes location, design, and quality interiors, " she added. The project is jointly developed by Hong Leong Holdings and City Developments, another member of the group. The District 14 development, which comprises five 18-storey towers, is a short walk to Aljunied MRT station and near the Pan-Island Expressway and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway. The Central Business District and Orchard Road are about 15 minutes' drive away. Property experts said new home sales may start to moderate in the coming months as pent-up demand from local buyers is absorbed into the market. But the gradual reopening of the economy and the setting up of fast lanes for essential travel could also result in more foreign demand for private homes here. In line with Covid-19 preventive measures, balloting and booking of Penrose units were done virtually via Zoom. Online balloting began on Friday to determine the queue sequence of buyers for booking day, which started on Saturday.

Source: Straits Times
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Maxwell House up for collective sale with reserve price of $295m

Maxwell House, which has been around since 1971, is up for collective sale with a new mixed-use commercial and residential project or hotel possibly taking over the site. Owners of the 13-storey building at 20 Maxwell Road have set a reserve price of $295 million, sales consultant Cushman & Wakefield said yesterday. The block comprises mainly offices and sits on a trapezoidal island site of about 41,801 square feet (sq ft), with views from all four sides of the building. The site has a plot ratio of 4.3 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Master Plan 2019. But Cushman & Wakefield noted that the URA said in January last year that it would support a mixed-use commercial and residential development with a 30 per cent higher plot ratio of 5.6, and a gross floor area (GFA) of 234,086 sq ft. This is subject to a rezoning. Another caveat is that the commercial part of the new project must not exceed 20 per cent of the total GFA. The allowable building height has also been increased to 21 storeys. Assuming 80 per cent of the total GFA is for residential use and the remaining 20 per cent for commercial, the blended land rate works out to approximately $1,691 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio. This is after factoring in a 7 per cent bonus balcony plot ratio and differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium for the site. Cushman & Wakefield said the site could be redeveloped into a hotel, with a plot ratio 5.6. This option would increase the land rate to $1,998 psf per plot ratio, also inclusive of the differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium. Maxwell House sits at the fringe of the Central Business District but is also near the conservation shophouse enclaves of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown and within a few minutes' walk of Maxwell Food Centre and the Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown MRT stations. The upcoming underground Maxwell MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line is expected to be completed in 2022. Given that it is in an area comprising mainly shops, food and beverage outlets and offices, the Maxwell House site will be "one of the rare exceptional residential plots" available on the market, Cushman & Wakefield said. Ms Christina Sim, director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Maxwell House is expected to be well-received as there is a dearth of residential development land in this part of the business and heritage district." She added that it "will be one of the best 'work-live-play' sites to be made available". As the property is in the central area, it is not constrained by guidelines on the maximum allowable number of units calculated based on an average size of 85 square metres per unit, Ms Sim added. This means developers have the flexibility of building studios or dual-key units. The public tender closes at 3pm on Nov 12.

Source: Straits Times
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Maxwell House up for collective sale with reserve price of $295 million

SINGAPORE - Maxwell House, which has been around since 1971, is up for collective sale, with the possibility of a new mixed-use commercial and residential development or hotel taking over the site. Owners holding not less than 80 per cent by strata area and share value have agreed to put the property on the market at a reserve price of $295 million, property consultant for the sale Cushman & Wakefield said on Monday (Sept 21). Located at 20 Maxwell Road, the 13-storey building comprises mainly of offices. It sits on a trapezoidal island land parcel with views from all four sides of the building. The site covers a land area of about 41,801 sq ft, zoned for commercial use with a plot ratio of 4.3 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Master Plan 2019. But Cushman & Wakefield said that URA had said in advice given in January 2019 that it will support a mixed-use commercial and residential development with a 30 per cent higher plot ratio of 5.6, and a gross floor area (GFA) of 234,086 sq ft. This is subject to a successful rezoning. Another caveat is that the commercial quantum if the new development must not exceed 20 per cent of the total GFA. The allowable building height has also been increased to about 21 storeys for the tower block. Assuming 80 per cent of the total GFA is for residential use and the remaining 20 per cent for commercial use, the blended land rate works out to approximately $1,691 per sq ft per plot ratio, after factoring in a 7 per cent bonus balcony plot ratio and differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium for the site. Cushman & Wakefield also said that the Maxwell House site could possibly be redeveloped for a hotel, with a plot ratio of 5.6, subject to approval from the relevant authorities. The hotel option would increase the land rate to $1,998 per sq ft per plot ratio, also inclusive of the differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium. Maxwell House sits at the fringe of the Central Business District, but is also near the conservation shophouse enclaves of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown. It is within a few minutes' walking distance to Maxwell Food Centre and the Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown MRT stations. The upcoming underground Maxwell MRT station along the Thomson East Coast Line is expected to be completed in 2022. Given that it is located in an area comprising mainly shops, food and beverage outlets and offices, the Maxwell House site will be "one of the rare exceptional residential plots" available on the market, Cushman & Wakefield said. Ms Christina Sim, director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Maxwell House is expected to be well received as there is a dearth of residential development land in this part of the business and heritage district. With the surrounding neighbourhood filled with a plethora of entertainment and retail outlets plus a smorgasbord offering of much-loved Singaporean food, it will be one of the best 'work-live-play' sites to be made available." The property also has the advantage of being in the central area where it is not constrained by the guideline on the maximum allowable number of units calculated based on an average size of 85 sq m per dwelling unit, she added.. This means potential developers have the creative flexibility of building studio units or dual key units, subject to approval, she said. The public tender for the site will close on Nov 12 at 3pm.

Source: Straits Times
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New home sales surge to 11-month high in August

Hungry ghosts were no match for hungry home buyers as new home sales jumped to an 11-month high last month, with developers selling 1,256 non-landed private homes, up 16.3 per cent from the 1,080 private homes sold in July. Year on year, sales were up 11.8 per cent from 1,123. Instead of slowing during the typically quiet Hungry Ghost month, new home sales surged for a fourth straight month amid Singapore's worst recession. Last month's sales marked the best August performance in eight years, noted Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. In contrast, only 325 new units were sold in August 2008 amid the global financial crisis, and just 756 in August 2013 after a round of cooling measures. Attractively priced new freehold launches coupled with pent-up demand, following a two-month-long circuit breaker when show-flats were shut, spurred sales last month. Analysts also cited low interest rates and a segment of buyers with still-healthy job prospects. Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL, cited bright spots in the economy where some businesses are stable or even growing. These include the technology, biomedical, healthcare, electronics and precision engineering sectors. "Those in more stable employment would have greater confidence in purchasing a property despite the recession, " he said. The 0.3 per cent increase in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) second-quarter private residential price index may have fuelled the perception that prices, at worst, may soften slightly. This may have prompted some home buyers to take the plunge, Mr Ong added. More new units were launched ahead of the Hungry Ghost month, which started on Aug 19. There were 1,582 private homes launched last month, up 82 per cent from 869 units in July, and nearly 56 per cent higher than 1,015 units a year ago. The figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. Last month's take-up was led by projects in the city fringe, or the rest of central region, with 622 sales, followed by 506 units sold in the suburbs, or outside the central region, and 128 in prime districts, or the core central region, according to JLL. The three new launches - Forett At Bukit Timah, Noma and Mooi Residences - made up 19.1 per cent of total sales last month. Forett At Bukit Timah sold 213 units, or 34 per cent of its 633 units, in the first month of its launch, "a rather outstanding performance, due to the freehold land tenure and competitive price point of $1,933 psf. Efficient layouts meant that median price quantum per unit works out to be $1.45 million, which fits the sweet spot for most families", said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International. Noma, a 50-unit freehold development in Geylang, sold 34 units, or 68 per cent, within a weekend after it offered early-bird discounts, with one-bedders starting at $600,000 and two-bedroom units starting at $900,000, Ms Song said. Including EC units,1,307 new homes were taken up last month, up 14.4 per cent from July, and about 12 per cent higher than 1,168 a year ago, the URA data showed. Sales picked up for earlier launches like The Garden Residences and The Woodleigh Residences - both overtook Jadescape to make the top five best-selling condominiums. Ms Song said last month's sales also showed strong interest for attractively priced freehold city fringe projects. Last month, city fringe projects accounted for the bulk of sales at 49.5 per cent, compared with 38.8 per cent in July. The suburbs, or the proxy for the mass market segment, made up 40.3 per cent of total sales last month, compared with 50.7 per cent in July. With the gradual reopening of the economy and the setting up of fast lanes for essential travel, the number of transactions from foreign buyers rose 74 per cent to 54 last month from 31 in July, PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said.

Source: Straits Times
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Hungry ghosts, recession no match for Singapore buyers as new home sales hit 11-month high

Bucking Singapore's worst recession and the Hungry Ghost month, new home sales in Singapore continued to rise for a fourth straight month, reaching the highest since September 2019. Developers in August sold 1,256 private homes, up 16.3 per cent from 1,080 units in July, according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday (Sept 15). Year on year, sales rose 11.8 per cent from 1,123 units in August 2019. The figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. More new units were launched - particularly those from Forett at Bukit Timah, ahead of the Hungry Ghost Festival, which started on Aug 19. There were 1,582 private homes launched in August, up 82 per cent from 869 units in July, and nearly 56 per cent higher than 1,015 units a year ago. Instead of slowing during the typically quiet Hungry Ghost month, new home sales grew faster than expected after the circuit breaker period ended on June 1. The two-month lockdown had upended sales and planned launches in April and May with show-flat closures. Including EC units,1,307 new homes were taken up last month, up 14.4 per cent from July, and about 12 per cent higher than 1,168 a year ago, the URA data showed. New sales were driven mainly by Forett at Bukit Timah, Treasure at Tampines, Parc Clematis, The Garden Residences, The Woodleigh Residences, Jadescape and Whistler Grand. Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, noted that last month's sales were the best August performance in eight years. Case in point: 325 new homes were sold in August 2008 amid the global financial crisis. After fresh rounds of cooling measures were implemented,756 units were sold in August 2013 and 617 units in August 2018. The rising economic uncertainties and volatile equity markets "seemed to be fuelling the boom for properties as more buyers seek shelter in safe-haven assets" amid record low interest rates, Ms Sun said. Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL cited bright spots in the economy where some businesses are stable or even growing. These include technology, biomedical, healthcare, electronics and precision engineering. "Those in more stable employment would have greater confidence in purchasing a property despite the recession, " he said. The 0.3 per cent increase in the URA private residential price index in the second quarter may fuel the perception that prices at worst, may soften only slightly. As a result, some homebuyers may feel it isn't worthwhile waiting for a major price correction, he added. Ms Tricia Song, Colliers International's head of research for Singapore, said August's sales also showed buyers' strong interest for attractively-priced freehold city fringe projects. In August, the city fringe projects accounted for the bulk of sales at 49.5 per cent, compared with 38.8 per cent in July. The suburbs, or Outside Central Region (OCR) - the proxy for the mass market segment - made up 40.3 per cent of total sales last month, compared to 50.7 per cent in July. Colliers International estimated that 81 per cent of the total developer sales in August were priced at the median price of $1,000-$2,000 psf, compared to 83 per cent in July.

Source: Straits Times
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China home price growth accelerates as credit growth picks up

China home-price growth accelerated in August after a brief slowdown the previous month as credit growth rebounded and wider property curbs did little to dampen buyer enthusiasm. New home prices in 70 major cities, excluding state-subsidized housing, rose 0.56 per cent last month, compared to a 0.47 per cent gain in July, National Bureau of Statistics data released on Monday (Sept 14) showed. Values in the secondary market, which is largely free from government intervention, gained 0.34 per cent, compared with 0.26 per cent in July. Policy makers have in recent months stepped up regulatory caution against developers' leverage and excessive home-price growth, after frenetic buying spread from the country's biggest cities to some booming regional centers. In August, cities including Nanjing and Wuxi followed Shenzhen in tightening home-purchase rules. For now, a renewed fear of missing out on price increases and an urge to guard against anticipated inflation are sustaining housing demand. Credit growth rebounded more-than-expected in August as monetary-policy easing continues to take effect and support the recovery. "So far, the property market is much stronger than our expectation, " Macquarie Securities' head of China economics Larry Hu said before the data release. "In the next few months, property sales may continue to recover."

Source: Straits Times
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Campus-style development for one-north by end-2021

A cluster of 12 heritage bungalows in Rochester Park in Buona Vista will house a mix of office, retail and food outlets as part of a new integrated development to be built by the end of next year. These black-and-white bungalows, some of which used to be leased out to food and beverage operators, will soon be part of Singapore's first campus-style integrated development spread across 2.4ha of land in one-north, said CapitaLand in a press statement yesterday. Rochester Commons, the 400,000 sq ft project developed and managed by the company, will have a 17-storey Grade A office tower. Of the 12 bungalows, seven are for offices and the remaining five for food and beverage or retail use. The development cost for Rochester Commons is around $550 million. It will also have a hotel that will be operated by CapitaLand's lodging unit, The Ascott Limited, under the Citadines Connect brand. One of the key features of the development will be Catapult, South-east Asia's first shared executive learning centre that will use technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality to deliver training programmes. The centre, which focuses on areas such as leadership and innovation, is aimed at grooming executives for leadership agility and equipping them with future-ready skills. Some of its learning approaches have already been trialled at Catapult's showroom at the Bridge+ co-working space in the Ascent building at Singapore Science Park 1. The showroom's centrepiece is a 180-degree immersive screen that allows shared VR viewing experience during workshops and is equipped with virtual conferencing capabilities. CapitaLand Singapore's chief executive Tan Yew Chin said: "As companies and individuals adapt to the post Covid-19 environment, executive education and reskilling will be increasingly important." "Catapult is designed to facilitate cross-learning and networking in a state-of-the-art campus. Catapult will also feature an online platform where learners and knowledge providers can learn, co-create and innovate for the future economy." CapitaLand said the development of Rochester Commons is in line with the Government's vision of a world-class learning ecosystem in the research and knowledge hub of one-north. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, Rochester Commons will feature a single digital identity access that allows tenants to move through the entire development via facial recognition, QR code scanning or access cards. Rochester Commons, which is set to become a first-of-its-kind integrated campus-style development, will include a 17-storey office tower with over 200,000 sq ft of core and flex working spaces. Property managers can also tap a cloud-based intelligent building platform to draw on energy and space usage data to optimise building functions for users' comfort. Likewise, the 135-unit Citadines Connect Rochester Singapore hotel will offer guests a seamless tech-enabled experience via mobile keys, self check-in kiosks and service robots that perform concierge tasks. CapitaLand currently manages Galaxis, an office building with a retail podium, in one-north, and Singapore Science Park 1 and 2. The Ascott Limited manages Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore and the upcoming lyf one-north Singapore.

Source: Straits Times
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Singapore's first campus-style integrated project in one-north to be completed end-2021

Singapore's first campus-style integrated development is set to be completed in the fourth quarter of next year, said CapitaLand in a press release on Wednesday (Sept 9). Located on 2.4ha of land in one-north, Rochester Commons will have a 17-storey Grade A office tower and 12 black-and-white heritage bungalows, of which seven are for offices and the remaining five for food and beverage or retail use. The 400,000 sq ft integrated project, developed and managed by CapitaLand, will also have a hotel, which will be operated by its lodging unit, The Ascott Limited, under the Citadines Connect brand. The development cost for Rochester Commons is around $550 million. One of the key features of the integrated development is Catapult, South-east Asia's first shared executive learning centre that uses technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality to deliver training programmes. Its curriculum, which focuses on areas such as leadership and innovation, aims to groom executives for leadership agility and equip them with future-ready skills. Some of its immersive learning approaches have already been trialled at Catapult's showroom at the Bridge+ coworking space in Ascent building in Singapore Science Park 1. The centrepiece in the showroom is a 180-degree immersive screen which allows shared VR viewing experience during workshops and is equipped with virtual conferencing capabilities. CapitaLand Singapore's chief executive, Mr Tan Yew Chin, said: "As companies and individuals adapt to the post Covid-19 environment, executive education and reskilling will be increasingly important. Catapult at Rochester Commons is well-positioned to cater to this demand with programmes that focus on leadership development and grooming of talent for regional and senior roles." "More than just a standalone learning facility, Catapult is designed to facilitate cross-learning and networking in a state-of-the-art campus. Catapult will also feature an online platform where learners and knowledge providers can learn, co-create and innovate for the future economy, " he added. CapitaLand said the development of Rochester Commons is in line with the Government's vision for a world-class learning ecosystem in the research and knowledge hub of one-north, which is in the west of Singapore. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, Rochester Commons will feature a single digital identity access that allows tenants to move through the entire integrated development via facial recognition, QR code scanning or access cards. Property managers can also tap on a cloud-based intelligent building platform to draw insights using energy and space usage data to optimise building functions for users' comfort. Likewise, the 135-unit hotel, Citadines Connect Rochester Singapore, will offer guests a seamless tech-enabled experience through mobile keys, self check-in kiosks and service robots that perform concierge tasks. Rochester Commons will also have features such as a 365m green trail, a sky garden, viewing decks and a multi-purpose outdoor court for community events. CapitaLand currently manages Galaxis, an office building with a retail podium, in one-north, along with Singapore Science Park 1 and 2. The Ascott Limited manages the Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore and the upcoming lyf one-north Singapore.

Source: Straits Times
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